We're so ready for Ni No Kuni. The collaboration between Level-5 (Professor Layton, Inazuma Eleven) and Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle) is the sort of unbelievable, almost impossible crossover that gamers fantasise about in the pub after a couple of pints and long week; a literal dream team ripped straight out of our most delirious reveries.
Having already in released in Japan to rave critical acclaim, Ni No Kuni is headed to Europe in January 2013, complete with British-localised voice acting and loads of extra content courtesy of Namco Bandai. Behind the closed doors of the Namco E3 booth, I sat down for a lengthy interview with International Brand Manager Dennis Lee to learn more about the past, present and future of this gorgeous anticipated PS3 exclusive.
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): So, how did the Level-5/Ghibli collaboration originally come about?
Dennis Lee (Namco Bandai): Strangely enough, when Level-5 was starting to work on their new project that ended up becoming Ni No Kuni, they had some early design documents and a little bit of direction about what they wanted the game to be. They felt like they really wanted to do something special for this project. So they reached out to Studio Ghibli, showed them all their early documentation and said "hey, we really want to do something with you guys." It ended up working out to where Studio Ghibli really liked the concept, and they had some extra resources, you know, it worked out perfectly. They talked about what they would do and Studio Ghibli ended up creating all of the animated cutscenes of the game. With them working on all of that stuff, there's also all of the feedback, the back and forth between them and Level-5. So, throughout a lot of the game, you'll see a lot of Studio Ghibli's mark as far as the quality control, the attention to detail and all the things that make Ni No Kuni really feel like a Studio Ghibli work.
Dealspwn: How involved were Ghibli in the storyline? It reminds us of Spirited Away.
Dennis Lee: The storyline was written fully by Level-5, but very similar to, you know, Spirited Away. When they wrote the story, they were looking at doing a project that felt very much like a Studio Ghibli work. Because Studio Ghibli was working on all of the animated cutscenes, again, a lot of their feedback and influence came through in the story for Ni No Kuni.Click here to read more...
The jaw-droppingly beautiful Studio Ghibli/Level-5 collaboration Ni No Kuni may well be coming to Western shores, according to GameSpot. 'Level-5 president Akihiro Hino today mentioned during an interview panel that an English version of the game is in production and confirmed its release window.'
A few things should be noted, however. First of all, Hino was referring to the PS3 version rather than the DS original. Secondly, Level-5 don't have a publishing presence in Europe, previously relying on Nintendo or Sony to release their titles over here. While we wait for more news, stare dreamily at that Japanese trailer above again, and hope upon hope that the localisation happens!